WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Mason Gillis regularly shows off his shooting skills at Purdue’s practices.
On Wednesday night, the roaring, sold-out crowd at Mackie Arena finally got a glimpse.
third year ahead made an arena record nine 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 29 points to lead the top-ranked Boilermakers to an 80–60 loss over Penn State.
“Honestly, I don’t feel like I did anything different. I just hit a few shots and they kept falling,” Gillis said. “I hesitate sometimes in games, but the first couple came and I said, ‘ I’ll just keep taking them.'”
No one complained. Jack Ade said Gillis made his job easy by recording his 18th double-double this season. Ade had 18 points and 13 rebounds. The Big Ten-leading Boilermakers (22-1, 11-1) made a season-best 14 3’s and won their ninth straight.
But to many, Gillis’ incredible play seemed to have come out of the blue. As of Wednesday, he had never scored more than three 3s or more than 14 points in a game. Then all of a sudden, there he was making 10 of 14 shots and nine of 12 from beyond the arc, thanks to the Nittany Lions’ strategy of trying a zone defense to deny 7-foot-4 Eddie.
Gillis made sure the game plan backfired on his old coach.
“My opening statement is going to be very brief,” said Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry, who was an assistant at Purdue before taking the Nittany Lions job two years ago. “Best team in the country, best player in the country, best in the country.” Coach.”
Seth Lundy had 18 points to lead the Nittany Lions (14-8, 5-6)who have lost six straight and four in the series during Shrewsberry’s tenure.
Purdue, the only Power Five team left with fewer than two losses, looked like it would run away early when it used a 9–0 run to build a 23–13 lead. But Penn State scored the last five points of the first half to close 35–29.
After Jalen Pickett opened the second half with a layup, Gillis responded with a flurry. He made three straight 3s to give Purdue a 44–31 lead, and after Penn State called a timeout, Gillis made a mid-range jumper and Ethan Morton added another 3 to make it 49–31.
The Nittany Lions were never able to recover as Purdue pulled away and increased the margin to 26.
“We’re not concerned about results, we’re quite process driven,” Gillis said. “But it certainly felt amazing.”
Penn State: Shrewsberry was the first Matt Painter assistant to return to Mackey with a different team. This could go down as a very forgettable experience. But the Nittany Lions are going to have some tough obstacles standing in the way of a better team.
Purdue: The Boilermakers showed just how much firepower they have in addition to Eddie. When Ade’s supporting cast plays like this, Purdue is nearly unbeatable.
public opinion influence
The Boilermakers left nothing to doubt after becoming the first Power Five team to earn a unanimous No. 1 selection in 20 consecutive years. Now comes the tough part — adding wins to archrival, No. 21 Indiana, the Big Ten preseason favorite, to resume.
Shrewsberry and Painter wore the T-shirts to promote Project 44, an initiative to expand bone marrow registries. It honors the late Andrew Smith, who played on two of Butler’s Final Four teams when Shrewsberry was an assistant there. Smith died in January 2016 at age 25 after a two-year battle with cancer and a bone marrow transplant that gave Smith and his wife, Samantha, three additional months together.
Penn State: Completes a two-game road trip Sunday at Nebraska.
Purdue: Begins three road trips in four games, including perhaps the toughest one — against the Hoosiers on Saturday.
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